Wednesday, December 28, 2011

what i've learned

In just two days I will be celebrating another birthday. Yay for me! Thirty is right around the corner, but I still have a couple of years before reaching that milestone. Esquire Magazine features interviews with celebrities about what they’ve learned. In similar fashion I present to you, in no particular order, the 27 things I’ve learned since being born.

Friday, December 23, 2011

52 Weeks of Memories: Week 6 & 7

It’s been a very memorable week 6 and 7 on my quest to 52 memories. Because I’m sick and dying (the death angel is after December folks) this will be a brief post.

Week 6 I volunteered at Dignity U Wear in Jacksonville on Saturday. The organization sends out clothing donations to the less fortunate through groups across the nation. Volunteers help sort inventory for the organization. While there I met a new friend. In my opinion it’s much harder to make new friends, especially if you’re a female, after college. And not everyone really knows how to take me. I’m so fully of energy, but I can be a little off-putting with my overly bubbliness. All that is a post for another day. Nonetheless, I connected with this other girl while volunteering. She’s new to Jacksonville and only been here about four months. I was wondering if we would exchange numbers, and we did. Hopefully we get to hang before I leave.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sounds of the Season: Part II

I love hearing Christmas hymns at church. You can never sing them enough in my opinion. The annual Christmas program usually features quite a few. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some great hymns and gospel songs. Here are my favorites.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

52 weeks of memories: Week 5

Let it snow! At least artificially. Each year Lake City hosts an annual event called Snow Day. It features 30 tons of artificial snow so children can experience the cold sensation. There are snow slides, snow piles, bounce houses, food, entertainment, pictures with Santa and more. In the past I’ve had to cover Snow Day for the paper. I got to actually participate in this year’s event on Saturday. My roommate’s church was in charge of volunteers, and I joined in the fun.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Avoid the Holiday Hustle

It will be 10 times worse Christmas Eve.
Being sick is a constant state of being for me. Usually I have some of everything to treat my latest ailment. Such was not the case Monday, and I found myself at Walmart putting together a get-better kit. There were so many people in the store holiday shopping, I thought I would never leave. You could barely move from aisle to aisle, and lines were endless. I only had a few items and waited a good 30 minutes. The whole process made my head hurt. Then it started to hurt even more when I realized I hadn’t even started my Christmas shopping yet. In a few days, I too will be in the mix of the holiday hustle. Just imagine how worse it will be. The mad dash to get those last few Christmas gifts will create utter chaos. I was inspired by the scene and my last minute gift buying to write a new book, “For Christmas shoppers who’ve considered homicide when the super store isn’t enough!” Using the book as a guide you can learn how to miss all the holiday madness. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the chapters:

Monday, December 5, 2011

52 Weeks of Memories: Week 4

Singing competitions are always memorable to me. Unfortunately they bring out my inner Simon Cowell. I always loved Simon on American Idol. Sure he was harsh with his comments, but most times Simon was on point. He was honest with his criticism. I wish he went to Columbia’s Top Talent Friday night. He would have flipped the table and walked away.
I joined my roommate and her pastor’s two daughters for the evening as we got to see the top talent at Columbia High School. I believe the children are the future, but it’s not looking bright if most of them want to be singers. I already told my roommate I was going to boo any bad singers. And boo I did via text message to her. I may be crazy, but I’m not THAT crazy. I’m not booing those children out loud so their families can jump me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo - The End

I can’t believe it’s over. Surprisingly participating in the official National Blog Posting Month was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Perhaps it’s because I have a brand spanking new job which allows me to get off work at a decent hour. Or I could chalk it up to the fact I participated in a dry run during March and knew what to expect. Whatever the reason, I am glad I successfully posted every day.

Ideas were one thing I never lacked during this challenge. I made a list of potential post ideas. I think I followed two – the intro post Nov. 1 and now this one. Too much happens in life to just plan what to write about. I try to go with the flow when inspiration hits.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sounds of the season part I

Even snowmen sing Christmas songs.
Now that Thanksgiving is over, let the Christmas music begin. My second favorite holiday of the year is Christmas. There are so many fabulous songs which call to my soul. All I want to do is sing. Here are some of my favorite songs of the holidays.

Monday, November 28, 2011

a random call

sometimes i sleep with my phone right next to me. it's probably not the smartest thing to do since I move around in my sleep. i never really thought it was a problem until last night. somehow while sleeping i removed the keypad lock and the phone called one of my homegirls.

typically when i randomly dial someone unware its either my brother or play sister. needless to say it honed in on someone else.  she texted me a few minutes later thinking something was the matter but i assured her it was a mistake. then she called but since i was mid text i didn't answer. wrong mistake to make with this friend.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

52 Weeks of Memories: Week 3

this week my memorable event was going to the movies with my little cousins. i have a plethora of little cousins in my family, but only one really likes me. honestly, she's the only one i like anyway. that's not to say she's a perfect little angel. but i can tolerate her much, much more than the rest. she is too grown for her own good, but she has consistenly liked me, and only me, since she was a baby. that counts for a lot in my book.

most of my little cousins aren't too used to me. i was either away in college when they were born or we just don't mesh. well it's their loss. now i only have to worry about spoiling one. when the princess and the frog came out i wanted to see it with someone. what better person to bring than a child? so i called her mom asking if we could hang and since then, every year we've gone to see a movie around the holidays.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

a house divided

i am a university of florida gator. my parents and brother are not. they rep the florida state university seminoles. did i mention there is a bitter rivalry between the schools? neither of my parents went to fsu; yet they rep the noles like an alumni. my parents always liked former fsu coach bobby bowden. said he was a humble coach they despised former uf coach steve spurrier. it was only natural they become noles. as a result my brother and i were noles fans. fsu was one one of my college choices until i learned they didn't have a journalism program. florida has the best in the state. so off to gatorland i went.

Friday, November 25, 2011

fatted calf

just stick a fork in me because i am done. i. feel. stuffed. not full, but miserably stuff. this is why i must starve myself until thanksgiving. sure there are other holidays throughout the year that feature a massive feast, but none are quite like thanksgiving.

every year the same thing happens. i eat until i can't eat any more. then i end up feeling miserable. must as i am right now. no matter what i just can't stop. all thah food in front of me is just too much temptation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

the hostess

she's a hostess with the mostess
tired can not even describe how i feel right now. i have been up since 5 preparation for thanksgiving. it is now nearly midnight.

my parents thought they were the ones hosting this year's small gathering. puhleeze. i am the hostess with the mostess which means everything just had to be done in a particular fashion. guests must be entertained every minute of their time here. there has to be a variety of appetizers. food has to be cooked to perfection. the list could go on and on with my demands when hosting.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful thoughts

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I can hardly wait. The kitchen is filled with smells of sweet potato pie, collard greens and much, much more. This time last year I was still in Lake City and not coming home until Thanksgiving evening. Talk about missing all the Thanksgiving fun. Such is not the case this time around. I came home to Jacksonville Tuesday night. Jesus is real, God is good and I am so thankful. Every year I like to make a list of things I am thankful for, be they big, little, random or slightly ridiculous. This year I’m thankful for:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let Thanksgiving Shine

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And no, I’m not talking about the approaching Christmas season. My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is coming! Thanksgiving combines several great elements, food, family and more food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sweet Baby Jesus and Christmas, but the holiday has become too stressful and commercialized. I have too many people on the gifts list. I’m going to suggest that we all only buy one family member a gift and let everyone know we’re donating gifts to those less fortunate. But I digress.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the saga of a snorer

Hello, my name is Toni and I snore. Quite loudly at that. OK Acceptance is the first step. Now I must find a way to end this problem. I didn’t want to believe that I snored. I thought people were mistaken when they mentioned it. But several people have told me on separate occasions that I snored. Hearing the same thing from three valid sources means it must be the truth. That could be the difference between me getting married or not. Who wants to marry the chick that snores? Reason no. 243 for me being a cat lady: I snore.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

52 Weeks of Memories: Week 2

Baby showers are always memorable.
It was busy Friday and Saturday for me this weekend. In my quest to “Get up, get out and do something,” and create 52 weeks of memories, I packed in a couple of activities.
Memory 2.1 featured a baby shower for a cousin on my mother’s side Friday. She’s in her 40s and just sent her last child to college. Someone must have forgotten to remind her it runs in the family to have children later in life. That’s what happens when you have multiple date nights with the hubby. This is why I always warn my parents when they go off gallivanting. There better be no more babies coming along.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

the poet in me

I was inspired to write a post today based on nothing but randomness. Why? Well why not? Sometimes you just want to get your poetry on. Plus, I wrote a massive post yesterday. It was perhaps the most serious I have ever been. I needed something to lighten the mood. So I present to you "Poetry is hard."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ties that bind

This tie was shot with an arrow.
The day my grandmother died I buried any association with her siblings and their children. I wish they would realize it. Recently her niece, Sota, sent me a friend request on Facebook. I should have known this day was coming. Several months ago she visited my parents. I made myself scare. Sota supposedly wants to get closer to me, but there is no love here. It went away several years ago.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Top news

Clearly it must be the end times because so much crazy stuff is happening in the world today. I spend a good portion of my time keeping up with the latest news. I might not work at a newspaper anymore but please believe I’m still a newshound. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about The Penn State Scandal, Occupy Wall Street; all that is Herman Cain and Kim Khardasian’s short lived marriage. Here are my thoughts on these big major news events:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where are my ZZZs

I just want to sleep.
Has anyone seen the Sandman? You know the guy that supposedly brings dreams. He’s been avoiding my house lately. It was cool that first night. I wasn’t even too annoyed with night two. But after three nights of no sleep, I am concerned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Protocol confusion

Dating protocol – What is it? Is a manual nearby? At 26 years old I still don’t know a thing about dating protocol. This is partially why I don’t date. When I think about all the ends and outs or dos and don’ts, I get annoyed. I just can’t be bothered. Who has time to determine who calls whom first, or what is the appropriate waiting time to call someone after getting their number? I refuse to look needy after getting someone’s number. But I always don’t want to have him forget about me if I take too long to call. As a matter of fact who is supposed to ask for the number first?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Adoption is an option Part 1

You too can explore adoption as an option.
Is it bad that I visit the Adopt Florida website on a regular basis? It’s been a habit ever since I decided I want to adopt a child or two. There has never been a question of if I will have children but when I will have them. I complain about how children act, but more than anything else in the world I want to be a mother. My future goals include being PTSA president and baking cupcakes for my children’s kindergarten classes or having snacks for them and their friends after school. There is nothing wrong with my reproductive organs as far as I know. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I have “child-bearing hips.” And bear some children I shall. But also in the mix I want to adopt.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

natural trendsetter

I’ve had an obsession with my hair ever since I went completely natural in July 2005. I can hardly believe it’s been six years since that fateful night. While taking out kinky twist extensions, I decided to cut off my relaxed hair down to the new growth. I realized something that night – I cannot cut hair.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All by myself

Hopefully I don't look this sad while alone.
My experience of going to Trivia Night alone on Wednesday got me thinking (which can sometimes be dangerous). How often do I avoid doing something because I don’t want to go alone? Actually not that often. I’ve always been a “the more the merrier” type of girl. In college I was quite co-dependent. I had a group of friends and we literally did everything together. It wasn’t until the SPLIT (long story short we moved in together, had a big falling out and now I don’t speak to anyone in the group) I finally ended my co-dependency. I gained some new friends, but my activities didn’t have to be the same as theirs. In a way this was helping me prepare for when I moved to Georgia and had no friends.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The sick chronicles

All good things must come to an end. For me that means my health. Of course I’m sick again. What else is new? Just the other day I was boasting to some that I haven’t been sick since I started my new job. Knock on wood. Or perhaps it’s too late for that now? I should have paid attention to the signs. Wednesday my nose was runny but I didn’t think too much about it. Then at some point Wednesday night while drinking water my throat started feeling funny. Just before bed my head began to feel congested. I popped two Benadryl pills and hoped for better results in the morning. No such luck. I was full fledge sick on Thursday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

52 Weeks of Memories: Week I

What's more memorable than trivia?
My goal is to “Get up, get out and do something” and create 52 weeks of memories for my New Year’s theme. Week one gets a nice gold star.

Wednesday I went to a weekly trivia night at a local bar restaurant. The hostess had invited me several weeks ago, and I decided to finally go. I’ve never been to a trivia night in a restaurant setting and didn’t really know what to expect. Apparently you’re supposed to have a team. Yours truly had no friends, or at least none who could attend. Poor little old me. The hostess asked if I wanted to be placed with a team, but I didn’t want to interrupt someone else’s group dynamics. Yes, even I can be shy. So I formed a one woman team, Solo Dolo Star.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Treat yourself

One of my favorite shows right now is “Parks and Recreation.” Amid the wacky interactions between the characters are little life lessons in each episode. At least that’s what I thought after seeing the episode “Pawnee Rangers.”

A subplot for the episode detailed how two characters, Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, have an annual “Treat Yourself” day. The day is filled with much needed pampering and shopping. Items bought can be something frivolous because as they both pointed out, “Treat yourself.” For this year’s day they brought along a friend, Ben Wyatt. He was confused about the “Treat Yourself” philosophy. He didn’t enjoy the spa treatment and initially only bought a big pack of socks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good reads

I'm a regular book worm.
The library is one of my favorite places in the world. It has books, glorious books, all over the place. Usually I pick up three to four books on every visit. Mystery is my favorite genre, but I have been known to check out a few other categories. Sometimes I head to the library armed with a list of particular books I want. Other times I pick up what catches my fancy while browsing the shelves. Here's what I got on my latest trip:

Monday, November 7, 2011

post new year's theme

Allow me to present something that is long overdue: my new year’s theme. Think of it as a slogan of sorts. Usually I wait until the end of the year to unveil my theme. What better way to start the New Year off? For me, a theme helps provide a definition for the New Year. It sets the standards to make the New Year the best one possible. Instead of setting resolutions, which I never keep, I can use a theme as my guide for the year.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A new identity

Identity is more than just one area.
In the past people have often greeted me by saying, “Hey Ms. Reporter” or “What’s up Ms. Media” and so on. Being a reporter was not only my job description, but also my identity. At least it was until about a month ago. I took a position with a local college in the area. It encompasses a variety of my skills cultivated in the journalism industry.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rocking to the Radio

It was cleaning day for me this Saturday. My room was in desperate need of a thorough cleaning. I could no longer put it off. To help the time go by, I tuned into the radio. Music always seems to make everything more fun. My station of choice is 107.3 Jamz based in Greenville, S.C. I loved listening to that station while living in Georgia because of the awesome mix of today's R&B and old school. The jams kept flowing during my cleanup time. Here's a glimpse at what I heard:

Friday, November 4, 2011

What’s your species?

The cheetah hunts the gazelle. Not the other way around.
I am a gazelle – at least in my mind when it comes to dating and relating. Sometimes I wish more men would realize they’re a cheetah in the equation, particularly the ones interested in me. It would make things so much easier in the dating process. I’ve never been one to chase after a man. I fully believe he should be the pursuer in the relationship: the unequivocal cheetah to my gazelle.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All I want for the holidays

Halloween just ended a few days ago, and Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet. I’ve already started compiling my Christmas/Birthday list. I don’t bother trying to specify which is for what day since the two are so close together. My parents have received a holiday list from me since I was old enough to write. There is no reason for the tradition to end just because I’m in my late 20s. My lists never ask for anything too extravagant. I am a woman of simple tastes. All I want for Christmas /Birthday this year is:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bye Bye Birdie

Mama Bird is not happy to see her baby leave.
A child-free home is a source of depression for some parents. Such was not the case for several featured in an Associated Press article entitled, “Empty nest? Not all parents are sad about it.” The writer interviewed several parents who were ecstatic their children were leaving home. They shared plans of traveling overseas, starting new projects and just enjoying life without children. I’m surprised I didn’t see my parents’ names in the article.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaBloPoMo: the return

It’s officially National Blog Posting Month, and yours truly is joining the fun. The project was inspired by National Novel Writing Month, where writers complete a novel from start to finish in a month. NaBloPoMo features bloggers posting something different every single day. The task is much easier than it sounds. I know from firsthand experience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gone 'Til November

My poor sick computer.
I’m taking a semi-break from posting, not writing, until November. My
dearly beloved laptop, Sheba, is in her final days. The doctor said
she’s only got one or two good starts left in her. Her hard drive and
disc drive are gone. Last week she wouldn’t even start up. Imagine my
horror. There are some other minor problems as well. Unfortunately,
the cost to repair her is almost as much as buying a brand new
Woe is me for I didn’t plan on buying a new laptop for another month.
And despite this sad state of affairs, I’m sticking to that plan. My
budget says no major purchases until Oct. 26. One day I’ll have an
unlimited budget and be able to drop a dime without a care. That day
is not today.
This leaves me without a reliable computer to write on. I hate using
library computers because there always seems to be a high demand. No
one wants to wait on me to write a post. And I definitely can’t write
and post at work. Not unless you want the laid off chronicles because
they fired me for personal computer use on company time. Perhaps if we
all chant, “Come back little Sheba,” she’ll make it through. Join with
me now. Just kidding (unless you want to do it).
If anyone has a good laptop suggestion, let me know. I hate Macs for
the record. They bring back bad memories of my educational technology
class in college. I don’t even know why I took that class. It had
something to do with a computer proficiency requirement for my major.
As a result I took modern problems with computers, navigate the
Internet and that stupid class. But I digress.
Perhaps Sheba will last until the next Writing Wednesday (and you
thought I just wrote on Wednesdays for kicks and giggles). I will
definitely post something. And the same holds for every Wednesday
after that, but no guarantees.
I promise to make it up in November for National Blog Posting Month.
That’s right, 30 consecutive days of me posting...again. Remember that dry run.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A hand to hand exchange

There is no escaping a handshake in society, but that doesn’t mean it should be executed any old way. It can’t be too soft or too hard. Ideally a handshake should be firm – a happy medium between the two extremes. Personally, I’m not a fan of the practice. Some people don’t wash their hands while others have open cuts and sores. Yet, they will gladly stick out a hand for you to shake. No. Thank. You. This is why I keep hand sanitizer with me at all times. However, I often have to bite the bullet and offer my hand. My only request is if you’re going to shake my hand, make sure it’s done right.

I abhor the “almost dead fish” handshake. You know what I mean – an overly weak handshake that feels like the person is barely alive. Perhaps if the fish was dead it would feel better because of the stiffness from rigor mortis. Shaking hands with an almost dead fish feels disgusting. The main culprit of this handshake is men, at least for me. Several peers and I actually had a discussion about this handshake. The view was men don’t want to hurt a woman with a strong shake. Well simply shake it firmly. Just because I am a woman I will not break. I promise.

On the flip side I hate the “bone crusher” handshake. It’s happened several times where someone shook my hand so hard until my knuckles cracked. The sound came out very loud and clear for both of us to hear. I should not need a cast after a handshake. It’s a handshake, not a test to pull the sword out of the stone. Perhaps my biggest complaint is the “barely there” handshake. It makes me think the person doesn’t want to touch me. Then I start to feel bad. Why isn’t my hand good enough to shake? I should not leave a handshake with lowered self-esteem because the person doesn’t know how to handle the exchange properly.

A firm handshake is truly one size fits all. It doesn’t matter if you have the strength of Popeye or the frailty of Olive Oyl. Keep that in mind and people everywhere will clamor to touch you. Then again they probably have germs. I think I might just start curtseying instead. No touching required.

Exhibit A: A firm handshake

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to school Blues

Once upon a time I could not wait to graduate from high school and college. School just was not for me. Senioritis hit me freshman year at both levels. Sure I made good grades and loved learning, but I didn’t like half of my classes. Math and science classes were of no use to me, but I was all about anything relating to history, English or journalism. Graduating was the happiest day of my life. No more teachers. No more books. Nothing but dirty looks. Instead that was replaced with work, no fun and bills. Adult hood sucks!

Good old fashion school days!
Recently it hit me: I miss school. I blame stores such as Walmart. How dare they display rows and rows of school supplies? There are people like me who have long since graduated and don’t need a Trapper Keeper, pencil pouch or graphing calculator. Yet these stores keep taunting me with items such as a Disney princesses lunch box. For the love of Disney I want one too! Each trip makes me nostalgic for buying school supplies such as notebooks, mechanical pencils and a book bag. How else will I be prepared for the first day of class where my eager little mind can soak in as much knowledge as possible? Bed Bath and Beyond keeps sending me these catalogues, and in my mind I have decorated a dorm room three times over. Hanging door mirror here. Collapsible laundry hamper there. Butterfly chair in the corner. And Gator gear all over. I can picture it now.

Right now I am jealous of all the students who headed back to school this week. These are some of the best years of their life. They’ll get fun, pep rallies, welcome back activities and much more. I get work, work and more work. It’s almost enough to drive me to tears. Then I start to think about the downsides of school: mid-terms, 10-page papers, all nighters, sitting in a boring class for 90 minutes or more and dealing with all the teenage and young adult drama. With that in mind, I think I’ll pass. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like school. My back to school blues are cured.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a natural pat down

Going natural is perhaps one of the best decisions I have ever made for my hair. I love the texture and feel of it and enjoy experimenting with new styles. What I don’t love is people touching my hair without permission. I also wouldn’t be too keen on having it touched by the Transportation Security Administration. I came across an article on the New York Times website about a woman, Timery Nance, who said a T.S.A. officer patted down her hair even though she already went through the body scan.

According to the article:
She asked the screener why her hair was searched while others, including white women with ponytails or bushy hair, were simply waved through. “Is it just African-American women with natural hair who get the hair search?” she asked.
The screener said no, “but if you have certain kinds of ponytail or bun, you have to get your hair patted,” said Ms. Nance, who is 30.

The writer of the article also mentioned a second pat down incident:
On June 30, a young African-American woman, Laura Adiele, said that a screener at the Seattle-Tacoma airport insisted on patting down her hair, which was also natural and curly, even though the body scan had not set off an alarm. Ms. Adiele said in various interviews that she thought the search had been racially motivated.
The T.S.A. denies that. “All passengers are thoroughly screened coming through the screening checkpoint,” said Kristin Lee, a spokeswoman. “Additional screening may be required for clothing, headgear or hair where prohibited items may be hidden,” she said.

Safety is always important when flying, and I understand T.S.A. has a job to do, but I’m not quite sure how I would respond to a request for a hair pat down. Half the time my flights are extra early, so I’m already grumpy. Also I don’t wear a true afro very often, but you might catch my hair in a twist-out. However, with either style my hair is not that big or bushy to hide anything in it (other than a Bobby pin). Any screener would calmly get told no if they tried to pat down my hair. I can picture the headlines now: Florida woman arrested for refusing airport screening. On second thought, I’m even less a fan of ending up in the slammer with Big Shirley. So pat away T.S.A. Just know there will be a chronicle about it later.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The fictionalized truth

One of the top books on my summer reading list is “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. I’ve been anxiously waiting to read the book since it came out. Unfortunately it’s so popular the library never has a copy available. Guess I’ll just see the movie adaption for now.

“The Help” opened today and stars Emma Stone (one of my favorite actresses), Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and many others. The best-selling book is supposed to be a work of fiction and not based on any actual person, but a lawsuit says otherwise.

One day I'll get to read the book.
Ablene Cooper claims her name and likeness was used without permission as the basis of one of the main characters, Aibileen, in the book and movie. Cooper is the maid for Stockett’s brother and filed a lawsuit in February against the author asking for $75,000. Stockett’s lawyers want the lawsuit dismissed, and a hearing is set for Aug. 16.

According to an Associated Press article:
Stockett's refusal to admit that she based the character on Cooper's likeness "is so outrageous in character, and so extreme as to go beyond all bounds of human decency, and is utterly intolerable in a civilized community," says the lawsuit, which represents one side of a legal argument.
The lawsuit quotes passages from the book, including one in which Aibileen's character describes a cockroach: "He black. Blacker than me."
The lawsuit said Cooper found it upsetting and highly offensive to be portrayed as someone "who uses this kind of language and compares her skin color to a cockroach."
Among alleged similarities between Cooper and the character, Cooper said she lost a son shortly before going to work for Stockett's brother, where she takes care of two children, a boy and a girl. Cooper's lawsuit said that's the same as the character portrayed in the book.

Books usually have the disclaimer “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.” Still many writers get their inspiration from something or someone real. In my journalism classes we always learned “Truth is better than fiction.” Stockett very well could have been inspired to base Aibileen on Cooper. But she probably also took inspiration from other people. After all, she grew up with a maid in the house.

Perhaps it would have been wiser for Stockett to get a little more creative with the book’s details and distort the character enough so it was a composite of all her influences. That could have saved a lawsuit. Please believe if someone used my name and likeness without permission, I’m suing for at least a cool million. Hopefully the two parties will reach an agreement. Either way, I’m looking forward to reading the book and seeing the movie.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I see good people

It always does my heart some good to see people showing kindness to others. Instantly I want to pay it forward and help someone else in need. Above all it restores my faith in the goodness of humanity.

Today while driving off from my favorite hangout, Walmart, I noticed a man on the side of the road with a sign asking for any food. “Poor man,” I thought. “I don’t have any change or food.” I was actually headed to get a snack myself and decided to get him something too. Situations like this already bring to mind Matt. 25:41-46 (read it sometimes). I’ve got enough things to atone for already. I don’t want to hear Jesus say one day “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat.”

The light was taking forever to change, which gave me the opportunity to notice a few things. First the car behind me handed the man a bag of chips. Then I saw another man walking through the grass. I thought it was someone else needing food. He was actually bringing the first man a meal and drink. Both exchanges touched me and I started feeling all misty-eyed (I’m a bucket of tears). I almost missed the light from observing.

In case I ever end up on the side of the road.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve become cynical because of my job. I love what I do, but often I get to see the worse in people. Murder, mayhem and just plain madness reign supreme in the news. When there is “good news” people are often only motivated to do things for purely selfish reasons such as publicity. No one does a good deed just because it’s the right thing to do. Or so I think until I see something as simple as people giving a hungry man food. Then I remember the words of Anne Frank, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”

This world is very much an ugly place at times. People are often at odds with each other. But that can’t stop us from showing the good in us. If nothing else, today’s happening helped me become a little less jaded by the world and more enthused to do some good in it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

RIP Black Sitcoms

There are no good black sitcoms on television anymore. Gone are the days of quality programs, such as “The Cosby Show.” The only sitcoms on right now reflecting black culture are unfunny, trashy or just downright bad. I’m talking to you “House of Payne.” And you need cable to even watch these shows. What happened to simply switching on NBC, ABC or Fox?
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good sitcom, be it black, white or otherwise. “Community,” “Modern Family” and “Parks and Recreation” are among the best shows on TV right now. I just miss the days where if the show stars happened to look like me, it was actually good.

The black sitcoms I watched could fall into several categories:

Universal Appeal: These shows appealed to any and everyone, whether black or white.
The Cosby Show, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Classics: The Encyclopedia of Black Culture lists these as required viewing.
A Different World, Living Single, Martin, Moesha, Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons

Honorable Mentions: Perhaps not classics, but just as good.
227, What’s Happening, One on One, Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Sister, Sister, The Parkers, Smart Guy

Underrated: Too many people slept on these shows.
Amen, Sparks, Roc, The Parent ‘Hood, Malcolm and Eddie, Everybody Hates Chris, Eve

Kid Friendly: Children and adults loved them.
Keenan and Kel, That’s So Raven, Cousin Skeeter, My Brother and Me

Big Time: Someone made it big and got his own show.
The Bernie Mac Show, The Jamie Foxx Show, The Steve Harvey Show, The Sinbad Show, The Gregory Hines Show, The Wayans Bros.

Guilty pleasures: So bad until it was entertaining.
Homeboys in Outer Space

Just OK: These shows weren’t bad, but weren’t really good either.
In The House, My Wife and Kids, Goode Behavior, Good News, The Hughleys, For Your Love

Gone too soon: They lasted only a season but had the promise of being entertaining.
On Our Own, Out All Night, Thea
Who doesn't miss these shows?

They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Are all the good black sitcoms dead? Me thinketh yes. At least there’s TV One where I can watch reruns of some of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Contacts v. glasses

The end has come for my reign of wearing glasses. I’m returning to contacts. I finally set an eye appointment for Thursday after a four month delay.

I hate wearing glasses. Absolutely. Hate. It. My vision was just fine until fourth grade when the world became blurry. I had to get a pair of giant coke-bottles, and four-eyes became a common insult over the years. In 10th grade I discovered contacts and never looked back. I still kept a pair of glasses handy to rest my eyes as needed, but contacts were a constant in my world. If I went to sleep with contacts, I would wake up thinking my sight had returned.

Sure contacts had a downside. Wear them too long and you risk dry eyes or infections. They easily pop out if you barely rub your eyes. And the slightest scratch hurts like the dickens. The bad outweighed the good of glasses any day. I didn’t start wearing glasses on a regular again until about four years ago. Blame the working world. Long hours in front of the computer aren’t good for the eyes. I only wore glasses to rest my eyes at the end of the day.

A few months ago I only had one pair of contacts left. For some reason I kept putting off an eye appointment. I thought I would get to it before anything happened to that last pair. A scratch beat me to the punch. Now I’ve been stuck wearing glasses since March. This is a cruel and unusual self-inflicted punishment. Glasses make me look 10 years older, and I refuse to take pictures with them on. They are not a flattering look for me any way you put it. I do not look like a sexy librarian, teacher or whoever.

Enough was enough, so I finally made an appointment. I can’t wait to pop in my first pair of contacts in months. It will open up a whole new world of sight. Someone once told me I could just get Lasik and be rid of glasses and contacts forever. Lasers. On my eyes. No thank you. I’ll stick to contacts, and the occasional pair of glasses.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

fear of falling

I’ve got fears. Lots of them. Most are logical in my opinion. I don’t like clowns because I watched “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and later read “It.” I’m now convinced clowns are the devil. Cabs make me nervous because there was a guy in Jacksonville killing girls in his taxi several years ago. I try to avoid riding them.

One of my biggest fears is falling in the shower. I can see it now. I get into the shower for a wonderful washing experience. Unbeknownst to me, there is an extra slippery spot in the tub. Right when I prepare to get out … KARPLUT! I slip and fall head first and bust open my skull. No one is home, and brain juices ooze for hours. By the time they find my body, it’s too late to save me. And then the world shall mourn. Gruesome little scene isn’t it? Well it could really happen, because I almost slip in the shower at least once every other month. I don’t really know how. It just always happens.

Nothing could replace this fear in the top 10 spot, or so I thought until IT happened Tuesday morning. I was enjoying a washing experience and dropped the soap. I bent down to reach it but came up yelling in pain. Somehow I managed to cut my shoulder on the shower door handle. Tears formed soon as I saw skin had been removed. In place of the brown, there was nothing but white, and soon it was turning red. Immediately I hopped out the shower, forgetting my fear of falling, and grabbed some peroxide and a Band-Aid. One top fear was replaced for another.

It’s been two days since that incident, but my shoulder still is tender from the cut. Lifting my arms causes a bit of pain these days. Now I get into the shower with fear and trembling. Not because I could fall. I’ve got bigger problems. I could cut myself. What if it’s a main artery and I slowly bleed to death? Just when you thought it was safe to take a shower, you realize it’s not. Maybe I should switch to safe little baths.

Friday, July 8, 2011

the last to know

No one tells me anything in my family, and I hate it. I’m always the last to know when it comes to family affairs. Not trivial things such as family gossip but important information, such as when people are sick. There is no reason I should have just found out Thursday my grandmother is in the hospital. Especially since she went in Wednesday. Or that she has cancer and is having surgery to remove the growth Friday.

Would I have ever known if I hadn’t called out of the blue and asked a specific question? My parents seem to think I get too emotional and hysterical when hearing bad news. No, I get upset when I find out things randomly. Then no one ever has any details. They give you bits and pieces of information and leave you to assume the worse.

This isn’t the first time my parents failed to tell me important bad news. I found out my other granny was dying because some nosy individual called me at work to ask what was wrong with her. Nothing to my knowledge. This led me to calling my parents and hearing the dreaded news. She had been in hospice since Sunday. I got that first call Tuesday morning. By Tuesday evening she was gone. All I could do was write and cry. No one wants to work knowing their grandmother is dying 500 miles away.

My parents didn’t seem to learn from that situation. I found out my brother was in the hospital with cancer by randomly calling my mom too (though she can’t seem to remember). I hopped in the car instantly to head home. Ma Dukes said in those instances it was because I lived nearly six hours away, by myself, and they didn’t want to upset me. I live just an hour away now. So what’s the excuse?

Sometimes I feel like the red-headed step child. One cousin pointed out my grandmother’s children like to keep information to themselves. Only one grandchild is ever in the know. My grandmother may have about 50 million other grandchildren, but we all deserve the right to know what’s happening with her, especially if we’re asking. If nothing more the top 10, myself included, should be in the loop. I might get emotional and start crying, but in the midst of my crying I can pray too.

The communication chain needs to be strengthened in the family. I’ve told my mother I don’t like how things go down when it’s bad news. Pa Dukes is getting the talk next. Maybe in the future they will do better. All I know is if I so much as get a cold, I am sending out a press release to everyone in the family.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

tales of a traveler

It feels like I haven’t seen my house in ages. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a trip every weekend since June 17. The house has seen me a grand total of seven days between then and now. When opportunity knocks you have to open the door. And open I did to one trip after the other.

I started out in Topsail Beach, N.C. with my girls ­–Ebonita Esperanza and Bella Jean-Pierre – the first weekend. Our mini vacation was completely carefree and relaxing. We spent time at a beach house owned by EE’s grandmother. Life was good. The ocean was our personal playground each day. We even took a river boat cruise. Of course no one wanted to return back to regular life. I barely had time to adjust before leaving for another trip.

West Palm Beach was the next destination the following weekend for my family reunion. I sung the whole trip down, despite Ma Duke’s annoyance. Days and nights were devoted to family bonding. Activities included a meet and greet that first day, singing karaoke in a Spanish bar the second and visiting our foreparents' gravesite the third. Once the family fun ended it was time to go home.

However my return home was short lived before heading to my favorite vacation spot, Baltimore, M.D. July 1. The fantastic Cee and her family are always so welcoming for my every trip (which has become a habit). We made a list of things to do, including watching “Pretty Woman” (which I had never seen), getting gelato and going on a scavenger hunt (my team won). Best of all we played Buzz the Hollywood Quiz for hours on end. Seriously, that game is addictive. Unfortunately all good things must end, and back to Lake City I went Tuesday.

At least until I get some more vacation time.
 I enjoyed each of my trips and didn’t want to leave when the time came, but it does feel good to be back home. Sometimes you just want to lie in your own bed with your stuffed Eeyore and Snuggles. And I think all that back-to-back traveling tired me out. I’m not up to any traveling except for one place this weekend – my bed. Well there and work. I’ll go back to traveling after my vacation time resets in August. I already have a spot in mind. Next destination – Miami!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Family Rules

Think I could write a book of reunion survival tips?
It’s family reunion time! This weekend yours truly is kickin’ it with the kin for the annual Lawson Family Reunion. We’ve been going strong for five years now. Yes, our reunion gatherings are fairly young, but momentum continues to build. The reunions have been in a variety of places including Belle Glade, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Orlando. This year we’re heading to West Palm Beach.

Family gatherings are always a joyous occasion for me. What’s not to enjoy? You’re together with all your family. The family elders talk about the past. The young folks talk about the present. The babies dream about the future. Family love is just all over the place.

There might be some people that find family gatherings less than appealing. Well no need to fear. If you’re headed to a family gathering anytime soon, I have a few survival rules to make the day as entertaining as possible.

1. Prepare funny responses to annoying questions and comments from family members, particularly Grandpa Buford, who you haven’t seen or talked to recently. If he asks, “When are you getting married?” just respond, “Never. I want to be a cat lady.” Then start meowing and rubbing your imaginary cat. This works if you’re a male or female.

2. When Uncle Buster starts telling you the stories from back in 1902 begin singing every last word of the sentence. He’ll look at you crazy, stop sharing and go tell Cousin Bridgette instead.

3. Do not, I repeat, do not eat anything cooked by Aunt Bessie who lives alone with two cats, three dogs, a ferret and a snake. They probably helped in the preparation process because she considers them her children. If she asks why you aren’t eating her runny potato salad, start asking to see pictures of her “babies.” She’ll forget all about it.

4. Once Cousin Bob and his new flavor of the month, Beatrice, start to argue, immediately find Grandma Bertha. Then grab a bag of popcorn to watch the fireworks that are sure to come when she gets to fussing at everyone. For some extra cash, pre-sell tickets to the upcoming fight of the century.
Ok maybe none of this takes place at your family gatherings. But just in case it does, you’ll be prepared.
*Disclaimer: Try at your own risk. I assume no responsibility for your family putting you in a jacket that makes you hug yourself all day.*

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chatting with Grandma

One of my favorite columns to read on a daily basis is Dear Abby. People have so many interesting issues, and I just love to read about them. A column on Sunday piqued my interest because it was about grandparents, particularly grandmothers.

The writer, who is from Florida, wrote that family members don’t call her grandmother because she talks too much. Apparently Granny is a Chatty Cathy and enjoys two-hour conversations. The writer is the only one willing to call, so relatives send messages about their lives through her. Unfortunately, she is also tired of the conversations. Poor Granny is oblivious to why they won’t call and told her she’s the only one that cares.

Abby essentially said to tell the grandmother the others don’t call because of her lengthy conversations. She said telling her so wouldn’t be cruel but really doing Granny a favor. Abby also encouraged telling the grandmother to get out and meet other people so she could talk to them.

The whole question and answer for this so-called issue annoyed me. Grandparents are my favorite things. How can you not like talking to them? I all but lived with my maternal grandparents, my two favorite people in the world. Most of my fondest childhood memories are from spending time with them. I went to church conventions with my granny, learned to read from my granddaddy and lived every child’s dream of having awesome grandparents.

I wasn’t as close initially with my paternal grandparents, but over time that changed. Grandma Pearl is my only grandparent still alive. I used to think she was mean, until I started to really pay attention to what irked her (other people in the family). Her remarks to them and about them were hilarious. Soon every encounter with Grandma Pearl, especially when she was fussing at someone else, became a memorable experience. Since college I’ve made sure to visit her every time I’m home. Our conversations are probably two hours at a minimum (I like to talk and she does too).

Perhaps since I had close relationship with my grandparents I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy talking to theirs for hours. Don't want Granny to dominate conversation? Then contribute a little more. You only get grandparents for so long in life. How hard is it just to map out time at least once a month for your family elders?

There were things about all my grandparents that irritated me, but nothing strong enough to keep me from wanting to talk to them. Sure a phone call or visit might require a packed lunch or two, but it’s a small price to pay for quality time with a loved one. I would give anything to have my grandparents back, because you truly miss them when they’re gone. Maybe, just maybe, if those family members called a little more regularly Granny would reduce her talk time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A true story

Jennie and Winnie: Will they be cool after this movie?
It is my desire to become a famous writer. The world will read my works and want to know more about the great mind behind them. Hollywood will then create a biopic about my life. Hopefully, if I’m still alive, they consult me. Who knows my story better than me, right? Then again I might forget details, embellish others and want anything bad not included. Perhaps that is the reason Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, was not consulted for her upcoming biopic.

A few months ago it was announced Jennifer Hudson would play the starring role in a movie about Mandela. Unfortunately one person crying foul is the main character herself. Mandela said she will not support the movie, according to CNN. She feels it is an insult to make a movie about her life without consulting her, especially since she’s alive. Hudson wanted to meet Mandela, according to her reps, but the movie producers thought it was a bad idea. I can see where Mandela is coming from on one hand. It’s her life, and she should have some say on how it’s translated on the big screen. But they might tell a much better story without her input.

One of the best profiles ever written was “Frank Sinatra has a cold” by Gay Talese published in 1966 by Esquire Magazine. I read it in my college literary journalism class, and the story is phenomenal. It felt like I was a fly on the wall during Sinatra’s daily life. It is interesting to note Sinatra refused to be interviewed for the profile. Talese instead spent several months observing Sinatra’s actions and talking to members of his entourage. The final product is considered the greatest profile about Sinatra and one of the best pieces of magazine journalism. And it was made all without Sinatra’s consent.

As a writer, I interview people on a daily basis for their stories. Often they want to read the final draft before it’s published. The answer is no, but I do fact check. Most newspaper and magazines don’t let sources preview a story. It creates a lot of headaches because they ultimately want to change every single detail. It also eliminates the journalistic integrity of the article. My job is to gather the facts and tell the story accurately as a neutral observer. Not write what will make the source look amazing.

Mandela should wait to see the movie before giving her blessing or curse. At the very least the producers know enough to gather the correct facts for conveying the story. Hopefully, they will tell her true story, not the romanticized version. That’s the way any story should be told.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

See my vision

“Don't get too influenced by one person's opinion. You might as well look within yourself and get influenced by your gut instinct.” ¬– author unknown

My life is an open book to my circle of friends. They hear about almost everything in my professional and personal life – the good, bad or in-between. Talking is my specialty, and I am all too happy to tell my stories. Unfortunately I have learned sometimes you can’t share your vision with certain people, even if they are close friends.

I’m trying to focus my life in a new direction, and a conversation about my plans with one friend felt somewhat discouraging. It was as if I was on trial and had to defend my particular choice. Her intent was probably not to bring me down. She said she was just trying to help me make the right decision. I appreciated the concern, but not really the delivery. I did my research to determine the best route for me, and didn’t just come up with a random plan from the sky. She forgot we are two unique people with different expectations for our lives. Her standards, while great for her, are not necessarily in line with what I am seeking. Still I was second guessing myself after our conversation.

I mentioned my newly formed doubts to the fantastic Cee and Ma Dukes, and they reassured me about my plans. Both echoed the sentiment that everyone can’t always see the vision you have for yourself. Their opinions might plant seeds of doubt, and what they think is helping is really hurting. I told my friend my plans to receive encouragement, not hear her opinion. Ultimately the direction I take is my decision. I have to experience my life for myself.

It should be everyone’s goal to support a friend’s path, (unless it’s illegal and destructive behavior). You might not think their plans are the best choice, but who are you to rain on their parade? As much as you might know about your friends, I am pretty sure they know themselves better.

The vision I have for my life is ever evolving as I grow as a person. There will be ups and downs, which I will share with my friends. But I’ll keep the overall vision to myself if someone can’t see it with me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

pay it forward

I tend to lose things a lot, namely my keys. Usually my keys are hidden by the paper monster at my desk. Paperwork has a way of covering everything in sight. I blurt out nearly every day, "Where are my keys?" 

Once I thought cats stole my keys. In my defense, there is a red band attached to the keys. It's a known fact, according to the "Cat Who Series" by Lillian Jackson Braun, that cats sense and like the color red. I assumed I dropped my keys unaware outside and the cats snatched them up. It turns out my keys were behind a box. But I digress.

Most things I "lose" are never really lost (except for maybe my mind, but that's a story for another day). Quite naturally I didn't think too much of it when I noticed my wallet was missing. I had it on Friday, but somewhere between the Chinese restaurant and my house it disappeared. It didn't bother me too much because I had my driver's license and debit card in my purse (I lose debit cards a lot too). The only thing in the wallet was my business cards, library cards and college ID. I thought the missing wallet was yet another item I left at my parents’ house. Imagine my surprise when I got a call at work from a woman saying she found my wallet. What? I really did lose it?

She and her husband found my wallet  on the ground and tracked me down via my business cards (I knew there was a reason I keep those handy). I profusely thanked them for finding my wallet and offering to mail it to me. The husband merely said it was their good deed of the week. 

It's nice to know people are willing to do good in this world, despite all the bad we see. Doing good should also spark a chain reaction in others. I have been inspired to pay it forward and perform a random act of kindness for someone else. Making someone's day doesn't require much effort. For me it was as simple as someone saying they found my wallet and sending it to me. Perhaps I can do a good deed by giving someone a latch to keep their keys handy. Maybe others won't have to worry about losing their keys to the paper monster too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The fruitocalypse

Prunes and raisins have joined forces for a worldwide takeover. At least in my mind. Therefore I don’t trust them. How can you? Both are pretentious pieces of fruits.

First and foremost prunes and raisins think I’m stupid and don’t know their origins: a dried plum for prunes and a dried grape for raisins. That in itself makes me raise an eyebrow. Changing your name to hide your identity is a no-no in my world, at least regarding fruits. It means you’re too good for your past. If you’re too good for that, what else are you too good for? Other dried fruits – such as peaches, oranges and apples – don’t change their names, but such is not the case for prunes and raisins.

There can only be one reason for this name change: World domination. Attack of the killer tomatoes will have nothing on the prune and raisin revolution. And no, the revolution will not be televised because the deranged fruits will attack the camera men. The whole drying process messed up their brains. Now both have become disgustingly evil.

Anyone who has ever eaten a prune or a raisin will be singled out for annihilation. After all you were limiting their numbers. I shudder to think of the despair the revolution will bring. The world’s only opportunity for survival is me. That’s right; I’m doing my part to lead the resistance by making sure no one eats either fruit. I like the originals anyway. Food remixes are just not for me (yes pickles, I’m looking at you too).

Do not assume these two fruits are mild-mannered and easy going. That’s how they get your guard down. “Oh I’ll just pop a nice little raisin into my mouth,” you say. “Attack from within,” says the prunes and raisins. Fight the impulse to eat them if you come into contact with either one. No good can come from eating a prune, despite what Granny and Granddaddy say. Only the runs. And raisins are a choking hazard waiting to happen. Take it from a person who choked on a tic-tac. Those dissolve quickly. Not raisins.

Take this message to heart, people. We survived the non-rapture May 21. There will be no survival of the fruitocalypse if you don’t think, and eat, smart.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lazy post

My mother bought me “The Children’s Book of Virtues” when I was but a wee lass. One of my favorite poems in the book was “I Meant To Do My Work Today” by Richard LeGallienne:

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?

Nice as that poem was, using that excuse in school will get you a big fat goose egg on an assignment. Good thing this is my personal writing post and not an assignment. Just before the clock strikes midnight and Writing Wednesday ends, I present an original poem:

I meant to do my post today
But a zombie was thrown from a tree
And an ambush was waiting in the field
And my roommates watched Zombieland with me.
And all in the scary Zombieland
Tossing zombies was a hobby to and fro
And I had to watch how the group joined hand in hand
So writing a post was just a no go.

Seriously, check out Zombieland. It’s a great movie.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do I know you?

I might need this t-shirt.
Just when you think you know a person, you realize you don’t. Or is that just the case for me? I am perhaps the worst friend, family member, whatever in the history of mankind. I don’t know anything about anyone. This revelation came to me Mother’s Day weekend.

I was hanging with @Diva_luvfeva at her house when I noticed some artwork on the wall. “Oh, I love that painting,” I said. “Thanks. I painted it,” she replied. “I also painted several others in the house.” You could have just knocked me over with a feather. Apparently she is quite the artist. There are canvases, paints and more in the house ready to create her next masterpiece. “OMG I feel like I don’t even know you,” I said. “What else don’t I know?” Honestly, I never, ever, ever knew she liked to paint. I don’t remember her mentioning it or anything. I’d like to think I have a pretty good memory about most things. Not this. Our families have known each other before we were even thought of, but I didn't know that one important tidbit about her. I. AM. HORRIBLE. And it gets worse.

@Ceetastic and I talked about a Mother’s Day brunch she attended later that day. Mothers and daughters played a variation of The Newlywed Game and had to answer several questions such as favorite color, favorite movie, favorite holiday, favorite food and childhood best friend. Passing would not have been an option for me. I don’t know any of these things about my mother. I definitely don’t know most of the answers for my friends. I don’t even know for myself on some. What do I know?

Obviously I don’t pay enough attention to detail when it comes to the ones I love and care about. Maybe if I did it wouldn’t be so hard to figure out gifts for them. Spending enough time with a person should eventually clue you in to things about them. The key is to actively listen and observe. Everyone knows what I like because I’m pretty vocal about my interests. Am I really taking the time to get to know family and friends and their interests or do I dominant talking about me? Relationships, be it family or friends, should not be one-sided. One person should not always be in the forefront. It’s a wonder they still tolerate me.

It seems like I’ve got some catching up to do in realizing just who people are. The first step will be sending out copies of those questions. Who knows when that information may come in handy? The next is to do a better job of really tuning into them.

Just in case anyone wants to know my answers: favorite color – orange; favorite holiday – Thanksgiving; favorite movie – Coming to America/Harlem Nights; favorite food – unknown, perhaps pancakes; childhood best friend – Ashley Riley/ @Diva_LuvFeva.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

wedding bell blues

Too often I seem to operate in a false sense of reality. Why else would I start stressing over my non- existent wedding? The reality of the situation is I DON’T EVEN HAVE A BOYFRIEND! There is no fiancée, beau or a summer time crush. Nothing! Yet somehow I got caught up in wedding bells … again.

I blame Google. It has a newish wedding planning feature. Being ever the inquisitive soul I had to check it out. Mistake number one. I should have been reading one of the million books in my house. Instead I’ve been making up a bridal party list, researching wedding etiquette and trying to pinpoint a budget.

I told my Fan Club Pres I was about to have a nervous breakdown because of all the wedding planning. His response was, “I thought it was something serious! I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to disown you and your planning a pretend wedding. Do better.”

There is so much to coordinate. It’s going to take me a good three years to make decent progress in the planning. If I start now, most of it will be done by the time I really get engaged. But will all my hard work get changed if I add a fiancé to the mix? What if he’s not feeling the story book/ newspaper theme? What if he wants to jump the broom? Will I have to compromise my big day?

Then again, isn’t marriage about compromise (along with communication, commitment and Christ)? And it shouldn’t just be about the bride. It will be OUR big day. We are joining together as one (tear). This much I know, I am having a DIY wedding. We are not spending a penny over $10,000. That includes everything: dress, food, and honeymoon. I want a celebration, not a trip to the poor house.

It remains to be seen if I indeed get married. Some days I’m all gung-ho for it. Most others I could care less. Perhaps I should hold off the wedding planning for now. The 50 million itemized checklist of things to do has turned me off the concept anyway. I think I just want to plan something small that includes cake, like a birthday celebration. Birthday parties are a whole lot less stressful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May memories

Bring on the cake because it’s time to celebrate. At least it is for me. Big things happened this first week of May many years ago. It is only fitting and proper I share them with you.
My beloved granddaddy was born May 4, 1916. He would have been 95-years-old. Unfortunately he died Father’s Day in 1997, but I was able to enjoy him for a good 12 years.

Granddaddy introduced me to the joys of watching wrestling, eating honey suckles straight from the vines and being a member of the Bug Zappers Club (an elite society). I remember how he used to always make and eat carrot salad. Yuck! I love Granddaddy, but to this day I still hate that dish. Mayonnaise, raisins and carrots do not belong together.

Many a day after school I would hear him calling out my favorite nickname (10 points for knowing it). Daycare for me consisted of hanging with grandparents. No wonder I was spoiled rotten. I wasn’t his first grandchild (who is that?) or his last (my brother), but I was definitely in the Fave Five. Although I miss him dearly, his memory is always inside of me.

Also, yours truly (and the fantastic Cee) graduated from the wonderful University of Florida May 5, 2007. It’s great to be a Florida Gator and even greater to be a Gator grad.

College was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. How can I forget walking through McDonald’s drive-thru at 2 a.m. with three other random strangers? You can’t just make things like that up. You have to live it.

My history of journalism class introduced me to the work of one of my favorite authors, Carl Hiaasen. I learned how to grow tomatoes in world herbs and vegetables. If nothing else, college helped solidify my career ambitions. There’s nothing like working full-time as a newspaper intern, for free, to help you realize your calling.

Some days working and playing in the real world makes me nostalgic for those carefree college days. I really had it made back then. The only jobs I had to worry about were being a student full-time, working in the art museum gift shop part-time and taking care of my first betta fish, Vendy.

Let’s pop some ginger ale (not a champagne drinker here) and raise a toast for my May memories. Here’s to good times of the past.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rules for survival

Watching horror movies is all well and good – until it becomes real. It seemed like I was a character straight out of Scream for a split second. I’m glad it wasn’t a scene from a movie because I would probably have died. Some friends and I went to see Scream 4 Saturday evening. It was thoroughly entertaining and kept me guessing about the killer. We parted ways after the movie and dinner, but that’s where the trouble began. Horror movie rule no. 1: Never split up.

The bathroom was my first stop during a detour to Walmart. It was in a secluded area of the store, but I didn’t think too much about it. Horror movie rule no. 2: Never go to a secluded area, especially if its dark and you’re alone. No one was in the restroom, but a store associate came in later. While washing my hands she completely bypassed the sinks and left. “Ewww, she didn’t wash her hands,” I thought. I scrubbed mine an extra 30 seconds to atone for her uncouth habit.

Before leaving the bathroom, I grabbed a paper towel to open the door (because the associate didn’t wash her hands). Strangely the door wouldn’t open. That couldn’t be right, so I tried opening it again. Nothing! A closer look revealed the door was locked. The panic began. “Oh no! Ghostface is going to get me,” I said. Horror movie rule no. 3: Don’t panic because it will impact your thinking in a negative way.

There had to be a place to hide safely or a window to escape through. No such luck. Walmart wanted me to die. I panicked again and started pulling on the door with a passion. Dying was not on the agenda for the night. Finally the door started to open, but I froze. What if Ghostface was on the other side of the door waiting to slice open my neck and cut my guts out? I almost scampered away before noticing it was a manager at the door. The associate told her no one else was in the bathroom. Apparently the sinks and I were invisible. I was saved. Or was I? Horror movie rule no. 4: Don’t relax because that’s when you’re in the most danger.

Actually nothing else happened after that. I survived! Granted, I am still a little traumatized. I will never look at a Walmart bathroom the same again. Hopefully there isn’t a sequel to “Supermarket Lock-in.” But I’m ready just in case. Horror movie rule no. 5: Make sure you know the rules to survive a horror movie.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An introduction to Hambone

Coming soon to a bookstore near you is the one and only Hambone Fisher, age 5. Hambone is my child-like alter ego. He emerged at McAlister’s Deli during its Christmas coloring contest last year. I wanted to enter, but the store discriminated against adults. Thus Hambone Fisher was born. He’s sort of taken a life of his own.

Hambone colored a beautiful picture but unfortunately did not win the contest. However, he didn’t let that get him down. Instead he colored an assortment of pictures for random people to hone his skills. That led to him entering a coloring contest this week sponsored by the Lake City Reporter. He was actually a contender for that one (until someone revealed his origins). That’s OK. He’ll just find another contest to enter. Eventually Hambone is going to win.

I plan on keeping Hambone around for awhile, mainly to turn him into a children’s book series: “The Misadventures of Hambone Fisher, Age 5.” Easier said than done. Clearly some character development is required for Hambone to make this a legitimate project. So far I know Hambone is a precocious, talkative 5-year-old. He likes to color, is very imaginative (sometimes he exaggerates) and can be strong-willed at times.

No his real name isn’t Hambone. It’s Henry James Fisher, but he is southern bred and born. Everyone goes by a nickname in these parts. His family consists of his older brother, Pork Chop Fisher, and his parents, Mommie and Daddy (real names coming for them later). His misadventures will include everything from coloring contests capers to dealing with a crush on an older woman (the babysitter). Each misadventure will have an important lesson to learn. But I have to finish crafting the character before I start writing story plots.

Working on Hambone made me realize it requires a lot of thought to create a fictional character. I can write a news article with no problems. Fiction writing, on the other hand, is quite challenging. It’s all from my imagination instead of just the facts. No matter what, I will make Hambone happen. Right now his series is a work in process, but he’s always available to supply anyone with a picture.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A new battle raging

Not too long ago Ma Dukes and I began an epic battle. We were at war – a cook war. There have been many discrepancies over the years about my culinary skills. She thinks I lack skill. Just because I don’t like to cook, doesn’t mean I can’t cook. Mother Dear said she is quite the mistress of the kitchen. She hardly ever cooks. I wanted to know what evidence she based that idea on.
Clearly, I am the better chef (or so I’d like to think). Mommy Dearest seemed to think otherwise (sometimes she’s a bit delusional). A cook war was proposed to settle our disagreements. We would vie for the title of top chef in the family. At least for the women. My father and brother are really good cooks. Really. Really. Good. At any rate this shouldn’t have been much of a contest. The food would determine the truth.

It was on like Donkey Kong from that point on. Each week we crafted one culinary masterpiece after the other. We talked smack, took photos and even occasionally had taste testers. Both sides boasted of making the best dish for a week. However, it was all quite arbitrary. I had my camp, and Ma Dukes had hers. The only way to really determine a winner was to have unbiased judging. We would cook a dish for a big family event. The best dish would win the cook war.

Unfortunately, that didn’t quite ever happen. We just never really planned a date and time. There was talk of submitting a dish for a few family events, but nothing was set in stone. Eventually the fight and the fury over the cook war died down. Until now.

That’s right Mother. I am calling you out – again. The cook war is back on! The previous battles were just warm-ups. I am ready to finish this war once and for all. Name the time, the date and the place and I will smoke you like a turkey leg with a side of sweet potato soufflé, spinach berry salad and rum cake, topped off with my mock champagne. Now it’s time to bring it, because it has been brought.

Monday, April 11, 2011

a friend like me

You know how some guys are a man’s man? Women want him. Men want to be like or him and be his friend. I’d like to think I’m a woman’s woman. Ambitious much? Perhaps, but people seem to genuinely like me. I’m fairly charming and down-to-earth. For the most part I can get along with anyone, especially if they look like me. To me it’s not that hard to be friendly with people. It always confuses me when I hear someone say they aren’t friends with a certain group.

Recently I came across an article on Clutch Magazine and the author wrote she doesn’t have any black female friends. Some of it stems from instances of childhood bullies. Her statement is nothing new. Essence Magazine had a feature story a year or so ago about black women and how we can't get along with each other. While in college I often heard other women say. “Oh I can’t get along with other women,” or “I just click better with men. Women are too this, that and the other.” Aren’t you a woman too? So does that mean you can’t get along with yourself?

Many of my friendships just started with me randomly talking to a person, black or otherwise. I tend to like everyone unless they give me a reason to feel otherwise. Sure, I’ve had my share of not-so-friendly black girls during my childhood. That simply turned me off to those particular people, not black women as a whole. Every black woman is not catty, rude or untrustworthy. The writer of the Clutch article mentioned she felt threatened and overwhelmed around other black women. She does have friends, just not black ones.

It’s funny how I never really hear men saying they can’t get along with each other or feel threatened by another man. I’d like to think I’m a hot commodity in the friendship arena. Who wouldn’t want to be my friend? I have a lot to bring to the table, mainly my quirky personality. Maybe it’s me. I just attract people easily. Being a woman’s woman is not for everyone. However if you choose to avoid possible friendships due to insecurity, then maybe it’s you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A time to assert

Sometimes I can be passive in addressing a situation. I’m not a doormat that allows people to walk all over me. Yet I often let people get away with saying or doing certain things that thoroughly irk me such as touching my hair, getting in my personal space or mispronouncing my name.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people insulting my job. It amazes me how people will insult where I work to my face while shaking my hand and smiling. Usually I let it slide, much like I do with everything else. Now I’m starting to see the power in asserting myself. I blame the heat. My irritable personality syndrome starts flaring up when it gets warm. Saturday was just too hot to put up with an insult, even if it was a joke.

A regular smack talker about my job saw me and said the usually jab. This time I called him out on it.

“Sir, I don’t insult where you work and would appreciate if you showed the same courtesy to me,” I said.

“Oh I’m just joking Miss Reporter lady,” he replied. “I’m not talking about you personally.”

“Yeah, well when you say things like that I take it personal, and it doesn’t help motivate me in my work.”

Apparently he felt really bad after our little exchange and thought I was upset (more like annoyed from the heat). He apologized for past insults and vowed to not say them to me anymore. I should have thrown a few tears in for good measures to make him feel even worse (just kidding).

It felt good to finally stand up for myself. Why is it so hard to do that all the time? Perhaps it’s because I think the issues might seem minor to most people. Why bother getting into a tizzy over something small? But what might seem minor to someone else could be major to you. Besides a person might not genuinely know they’re doing something wrong much. Ignorance is bliss but knowledge is power. It is my duty to speak up when things bother me. If I don’t stand up and assert myself for me, neither can anyone else.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I scream

Do you like scary movies? I’m not normally a fan of them, but there is something about the upcoming “Scream 4” that is calling to me. Sure I didn’t see all of 2 and skipped 3 completely. I’ll play catch-up with the Cliff notes version (thank you Wikipedia).

I saw the trailer for “Scream 4” and immediately decided to see it. It’s been a while since I viewed a good old-fashion scary film. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Just give me a deranged psychopath with a giant butcher knife. All my excitement for “Scream 4” made me think about some of my favorite scary movies.

My daddy likes to occasionally imitate the crazy mother in Carrie and say, “They’re going to laugh at you.” I saw the movie and loved it. Read the book and loved it. Saw the movie again and screamed when the arm popped out of the grave.

Some crazy man is going around and making people solve impossibly hard puzzles. Not cool. I HATE puzzles. I would just die. Sort of like everyone else. My nerves are too bad to watch the sequels.

Tales From The Hood
The movie features several segments with strange happenings. There are killer dolls in one segment. KILLER. DOLLS! I didn’t trust any of my dolls for a while.

From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
It’s not as scary as the rest but still made me scream (not a hard task). It did have vampires. Also, I fell in love with George Clooney watching this movie.

The Ring
My first viewing was in broad daylight with my little brother. I still screamed during most of it. Children are already scary. Evil ones are 10 times scarier.

Snoop Dog. Pam Grier. A vengeful pimped out ghost. What’s not to love? I screamed more than once watching Bones.

Any of the Final Destinations
Every time I see one of these movies, I end up afraid to breathe. It’s not safe anywhere. I can only watch a Final Destination film with a group of people. And we all have to stay close.

Now who’s coming to see “Scream 4” with me? I don’t scream alone.